Writing good lyrics is really tough!

popthree

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my hearing issue in this case has nothing to do with your particular brand of enunciation or any lingering accent... its just that i can't hear those starting/ending consonants. its a very common problem for tinnitus sufferers. i have hearing aids and i hate them so they sit on a shelf collecting dust.
 

6tzguy

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I have a guitar playing singer/songwriter friend who writes great songs. I was talking to him about songwriting and he said to just keep working at it and if your lucky your 20th attempt may possibly be ok. Come back and talk to me then and we’ll revisit songwriting.
 

WWLaidback

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I've been following all of the posts here on lyric writing. I'm 71. I have been listening to music all of my life. My parents always listened to music. We had a big RCA tube radio and we had electricity so they weren't reliant on batteries. We had a record player as well.

For you younger TDPRIers whose parents didn't grow up during the 1930s Depression or in Newfoundland, they were doing well. 'Success' was pretty much defined as having a job/income that put food on the table, clothes on your back, and a roof over one's family's head. A radio and a record player were icing on the cake.

In the fifties, it was Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, et cetera. In the sixties it was The Beatles, Bob Dylan and so on.

I've been listening to "music all of my life". (I like my period 'outside' the quotation so apologies if this is not proper.) When I say "music" I mean the instrumental part AND the lyrics. That's what I'm getting at here. I have a real appreciation for a good melody BUT I really have appreciation for songs with 'good lyrics'. Yes, I know it's subjective and that one person's 'good' lyrics'may be another person's 'crap' lyrics.

But the point of this post is that after a lifetime of listening to the best and even the worst lyrics ever written, I should be able to write songs with great lyrics. Not so. I struggle with lyrics. I refuse to use computer-generated lyrics. I've read about such programs but 'no, thanks' - my lyrics have to come out of my pea-sized brain, lol.

Anyhow, that's just my two cents worth on lyric writing.

And while I have you here, have a listen to one of my efforts on my newly-opened SoundClick account.

http://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandiD=1478350

There's a song-writing software that helps you rhym up the lyrics. I forget the name of it.

I have a soundclick account too: https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandid=801275
 
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jimmysong

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Agree with you. It is extremely hard. I think you must have an incredible inspiration, imagination, and desire to write something you feel. Also, I think that there are a lot of singers who do not write their lyrics and there is a special PaperWriter who can do this for you. But I'll try myself in this field. I want to write some lyrics and suppose to share them here for you to say if they are good.
 

kbold

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Agree with you. It is extremely hard. I think you must have an incredible inspiration, imagination, and desire to write something you feel. Also, I think that there are a lot of singers who do not write their lyrics and there is a special PaperWriter who can do this for you. But I'll try myself in this field. I want to write some lyrics and suppose to share them here for you to say if they are good.
Inspiration: I snatch interesting phrases as they pass fleetingly through my mind. Sometimes they're a catalyst.
Imagination: Ebb and flow. Don't possess it, but sometimes it comes knocking, like the neighbours cat.
Desire to write something I feel: Writing something I feel can be cathartic, but for songwriting I'm more interested in imparting a 'feeling' to the listener. I'm even more interested in creating visual imagery from words.

PaperWriter: No. I'll find my own words. When I play a song I sing it, but I don't consider myself a good singer. (My singing typically emulates the styles of Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, or on good days Elvis Costello or Nick Cave: pity my writing abilities don't.)

Sharing lyrics here: That's what this place is for. Go for it: you'll have to sweat those drops of blood first. (I don't promise to be kind.)
 

chulaivet1966

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I'm even more interested in creating visual imagery from words.
PaperWriter: No. I'll find my own words. When I play a song I sing it, but I don't consider myself a good singer. (My singing typically emulates the styles of Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, or on good days Elvis Costello or Nick Cave: pity my writing abilities don't.)
Sharing lyrics here: That's what this place is for. Go for it: you'll have to sweat those drops of blood first. (I don't promise to be kind.)

G'day m8....

That's my take.

For me, creating lyrical 'imagery' is most important.
What a listener may 'feel' from a song would be determined by the imagery expressed in the lyrics.
Of course, the listeners will determine if I've succeeded with that goal.

"Singing"?....I'm just a coherent rock (in case that's genre :) ) kind of guy.
I'll have occasional confidence problems in that arena.
One has to be bold ( :) ) sometimes, throw the song against the forum wall and see what happens.
IMO....if one truly wants to improve with their creative efforts at some point getting outside feed back will be necessary.
Which means...accepting the bitter with the sweet.

Back to it....
 
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Red Ryder

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A line from my hit song Fisherman's Dream.
Thar she blows on the sea of love
Off the starboard bow
So get ready with your blubber knife
To cut up a fat sea cow.

Nothing difficult about that.
 

tfarny

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But the point of this post is that after a lifetime of listening to the best and even the worst lyrics ever written, I should be able to write songs with great lyrics. Not so. I struggle with lyrics. I refuse to use computer-generated lyrics. I've read about such programs but 'no, thanks' - my lyrics have to come out of my pea-sized brain, lol.

Anyhow, that's just my two cents worth on lyric writing.
Do you expect that after a lifetime of eating food you should be a master chef? Or a lifetime of tv watching should make you a master actor? Even people who DO write great lyrics occasionally end up with "Love love me do, you know I love you, I'll always be true..."

Writing is a gift and a talent, and also a skill you have to cultivate - the great ones have a gift that they then cultivate obsessively.
 

Quexoz

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I have NEVER been able to write a decent song. It seems like such a simple task but nope! I write it and think this is going to sound perfect at the time. Get all done writing and read it back and it strikes me as something written by a 12 year old. In the trash it goes. That said, so does half the "hit" music I've heard. I guess the trick is having a much better vocabulary than I have...and something to actually write about.

I think it's more about the delivery than the words chosen though. Problem is anything I've ever written just has no structure that I can cram into the space it needs to be and have it sound "cool". "Way too many syllables there son!".

My idea of good lyrics, well delivered (long intro, skip to 4:05, Greta Van Fleet - Age of Man) and the sound of that 61 'Les Paul'/SG, oh man!:

 
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kbold

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What a listener may 'feel' from a song would be determined by the imagery expressed in the lyrics.
Howdy

I would add: ....... and the emotions they feel are rooted in their past experiences. (So everyones response is different.) Just my opinion.
 

chulaivet1966

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Howdy I would add: ....... and the emotions they feel are rooted in their past experiences. (So everyones response is different.) Just my opinion.

Agreed....that makes sense to me.

(What Aussie time zone are you in?....looks like it's close to midnight in your turf.)

Thanks and hope all is well kbold.

Have a great day everyone....
 

kbold

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Agreed....that makes sense to me.

(What Aussie time zone are you in?....looks like it's close to midnight in your turf.)

Thanks and hope all is well kbold.

Have a great day everyone....
On the eastern time zone. Just woke up here .... it's 7:00 am (Thursday) Where you are , it's 2:00pm (Wednesday)

So ...you're in Kansas, and I'm in Oz? Something sounds very familiar here.
Good starting point for a story .... I'll go and put on my tin hat.

Have a nice afternoon.
 

chulaivet1966

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On the eastern time zone. Just woke up here .... it's 7:00 am (Thursday) Where you are , it's 2:00pm (Wednesday) So ...you're in Kansas, and I'm in Oz? Something sounds very familiar here.
Good starting point for a story .... I'll go and put on my tin ha
t.

Got it....eastern time zone.

Ha....good catch....it escaped me so I must be getting daft in my old age.
I'll keep an eye open for my brain while you're donning the 'tin hat'.

Yes....currently 15:30 (Wednesday) here and still no precip in the forecast.
I like blustery weather during the holidays.

Thanks for coming back....
 

Kiriyaro2211

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I agree, writing good lyrics is really tough. I noticed that it is hard to find really good lyric songs among new tracks. Where are all those wonderful romantic songs like those created by Scorpions or Aerosmith?
 

yolandyoung

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I was always admiring people who write good music, songs. The maximum I can is to write some projects with https://letsgradeit.com/ guys. However, even this is not so easy for me. A person should be really talented to feel the music, to catch the mood.
 
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DjimiWrey

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I've been following all of the posts here on lyric writing. I'm 71. I have been listening to music all of my life. My parents always listened to music. We had a big RCA tube radio and we had electricity so they weren't reliant on batteries. We had a record player as well.

For you younger TDPRIers whose parents didn't grow up during the 1930s Depression or in Newfoundland, they were doing well. 'Success' was pretty much defined as having a job/income that put food on the table, clothes on your back, and a roof over one's family's head. A radio and a record player were icing on the cake.

In the fifties, it was Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, et cetera. In the sixties it was The Beatles, Bob Dylan and so on.

I've been listening to "music all of my life". (I like my period 'outside' the quotation so apologies if this is not proper.) When I say "music" I mean the instrumental part AND the lyrics. That's what I'm getting at here. I have a real appreciation for a good melody BUT I really have appreciation for songs with 'good lyrics'. Yes, I know it's subjective and that one person's 'good' lyrics'may be another person's 'crap' lyrics.

But the point of this post is that after a lifetime of listening to the best and even the worst lyrics ever written, I should be able to write songs with great lyrics. Not so. I struggle with lyrics. I refuse to use computer-generated lyrics. I've read about such programs but 'no, thanks' - my lyrics have to come out of my pea-sized brain, lol.

Anyhow, that's just my two cents worth on lyric writing.

And while I have you here, have a listen to one of my efforts on my newly-opened SoundClick account.

http://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandiD=1478350
i enjoyed listening to demo #3 gorgeous americana
 

TheFuzzDog

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No one wants to buy a song about your green parakeet who escaped because... not everyone owns a green parakeet.

Can you expand on this point? I don’t think you actually mean this, but I can’t puzzle out what you do mean.

Many if not most songs that are recognizably “about something” are about things I haven’t experienced directly. As I understand your statement above, I should not care a whit about any of those songs.
 

teletimetx

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Can you expand on this point? I don’t think you actually mean this, but I can’t puzzle out what you do mean.

Many if not most songs that are recognizably “about something” are about things I haven’t experienced directly. As I understand your statement above, I should not care a whit about any of those songs.
I’m not @DADGAD, so sorry for that, but for discussion purposes:
Not many would find the loss of one parakeet particularly compelling just on the MIA report alone.

It’s the why of it all or how the loss can be told in a way that is more universal, more human.

“Had the parakeet since I was ten and after losing my brother in Iraq, the parakeet was the best man at my wedding.” (For example).*

Then it’s not so much about the parakeet or whether the parakeet was green, no?

Let’s take a trite by repetition, but very successful song, “Margaritaville “.

Not necessarily an anthem, maybe a little bit, for the margarita drinkers, but a story in which a guy, by the 3rd verse or so, recognizes his responsibility for the failure of a relationship. Growth, in spite of heavy drinking.

He also recognizes the smell of shrimp beginning to boil.

So in my tiny world, it’s not the subject of a song that makes it compelling - it’s the story of what happens and whether or not other people might relate to that.

Of course, not every song needs to be a story song - you can just do a picture or a portrait- but again, you might want to think about whether your personal view is compelling or maybe do some research.

For some songs, I do a lot of research. Did all that work make a better song? Maybe.

In any event, you kind of have to find your own way. But there are a number of books out there - Jimmy Webb “Tunesmith” etc. that might be worth checking out.

If I’ve just blathered on about stuff you already know, sorry for that too; just felt like keeping a discussion going.

*ps: at the end of the song it is revealed that it was the dead brother’s parakeet.
 
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